Stressing upon the need for water conservation, Gadkari said, “If even 15 percent of rainwater could be tapped out of the 60 percent that goes to the sea, the water-scarcity could be avoided and people can be supplied with potable water besides irrigation of agriculture land.”

“The availability of water through conservation mode will enhance the farm productivity by three times, besides providing employment to about 50 lakh young people and fight the menace of poverty,” he added while inaugurating a two-day National workshop on Regeneration of Rivers in the national capital.

Gadkari, who also holds the additional charge of the Ministry of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water and Sanitation, underlined the need for small projects, especially on the wasteland by extensive use of technology.

Gadkari said that big dams not only entail capital cost but are also mired in a number of problems like land acquisition, displacement and time-bound completion.

Gadkari further said that his departments in coordination with others are preparing roadmaps for cleanliness of Ganga and Yamuna rivers and developing waterways in the country for environment -friendly and quick movement of cargo and passenger traffic.
     
He also said that the project monitoring committee was looking into realignment of National Highways in calamity torn Kedarnath region, which faced flash floods last year that killed and displaced thousands of people.

200 crore trees to be planted along one lakh km highways: Gadkari

The government plans to plant 200 crore trees along the entire one lakh km National Highways network across the country to employ jobless youth.
     
"The length of National Highways in the country is one lakh kilometre. I have asked officials to come out with a plan to plant 200 crore trees along these stretches which in turn would create jobs for the unemployed on the one hand and protect the environment on the other," Gadkari said.
     
A similar scheme could be implemented under MNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) along the village and district roads and state highways. That has the potential to employ 30 lakh youth, he said.
     
Gadkari said the Gram Panchayats will be taken into confidence and the unemployed youth could be assigned 50 trees each which could fetch livelihood for them from the produce.
     
He said measures were also on to save Rs six lakh crore on imports of petrol, diesel and gas by way of promoting bio-fuels.

Gadkari also paid rich tributes to former union rural development minister Gopinath Munde, who died last month in a tragic road accident in the national capital.

JPN/Agencies

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